February 10, 2015
The following is a statement from Sen. Watson in response to a suggestion that the state sell the land that houses the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin:
I don’t support just selling property that neighborhoods and communities have grown around and could be seriously affected. People have relied on property near their homes having a certain character.
Planning, to avoid serious unintended consequences such as traffic, noise, lights and such, must be included in any discussions.
My priority is to ensure that the students at the School for the Deaf have a safe and healthy home and school. The suggestion to sell the property seemed to stem from my colleague’s frustration with the significant deficiencies in some of the facilities. Over the years, I’ve heard countless proposals to solve state problems by selling high-value property in Austin. My comments were intended to inject a bit of reality into the discussion and caution my colleagues that such an idea creates as many problems as it purports to solve.
What we really need to be focused on here are the problems the Facilities Commission identified at the School for the Deaf. Many of the buildings at the school have many years of useful life, if we will just fix the problems and then maintain them by investing in common maintenance practices. It’s important that we not throw the baby out with the bathwater — this property serves as home and community to the students, as well as an elementary, middle and high school campus.